“Never take a shot until May is out” is the medieval English saying which means don’t put your long underwear away until the end of May; well we have certainly had a few really cool nights recently which is just wonderful … allowing you to sleep with tthe windows open.
I don’t remember the last time we had a real spring like the one we are experiencing this year, with a lot of rain. May is generally a dry month, although with the effects of global warming no weather is typical these days. However, this benEffective rain is wonderful for any spring plant growth that occurs at the start of the growing season.
I am so impressed with the miracle of Mother Nature; the symbiotic relationship between plants and other creatures of God. As I look out of my windNow in my field, I can see the buds opening on my long stand of peonies, which reminds me of only one of those symbiotic relationships – the friendly partnership between ants and peonies.
I am often asked, “Maureen, should I be worried about ants on my peonies?” The the answer is “That’s not a problem, a lot of ants on peonies just show that you have healthy plants with large buds that produce more nectar and therefore attract ants.”
Make sure the peonies get plenty of water and after flowering, apply a light dose organic fertilizer 5-10-5 and check the soil pH, it should be 6.5-7.0. It’s hard to ruin a good peony edging, but you could go wrong with the fertilization process, so take it easy with the aged organic manure (I never thought I would say that) and just apply the ligh fertilizer dose – to repeat the fertilizer application after flowering.
Now in June, I pinch the side buds on my large peony stand, ensuring large blooms on the rest of the plant.
About ants; if you see them “let them live â, because often their presence indicates that we have aphids around and that the ants feed on aphids; they are very useful creatures.
Another very useful creature in pest control wars; it’s the little toad so I always put toad houses (that you cann purchase in garden centers) around and in your borders. You can also use an old clay pot that’s cracked and make sure the crack is two to three inches wide for the doorway so the toad can get in. Also put a small saucer as a floor under the pot with pebbles, which you keep moist, so that your friendly insect eater has his ideal home environment.
Straw your gardens in June; when the ground has warmed to about 45 or 50 degrees. When you mulch, be careful by mulching around trees; don’t place mulch closer than four inches from the trunk, as it can promote rot and disease in the tree itself. Also the trees which are mulched too deeply near the trunk invite mice and other rodents to come and nest and then gnaw the trunk.
The entire garden can be mulched to a depth of between two and three inches. I prefer fine hardwood mulch that is dark brown in color but no dyed red mulch please â¦ Keep the garden natural and not like a Disney theme park.
June is the month when the roses start to bloom. I prefer the David Austin roses which I think are the easiest roses that bloom repeatedly and have wonderful scents. Some of my favorites are A boy from Shropshire, a soft peachy pink, Abraham Darby with apricot blossoms at yellow, Just Bianca pure white, Patrimony, a light and soft pink. My absolute favorite is Evelyne, pictured right, which has giant, saucer-shaped apricot blossoms and the fragrance is unmistakable with a luscious fruity tone, reminding me of fresh peaches and apricots.
Feed your roses with an organic rose food called Living roses, which you can get from “Gardens Alive” on the internet, feed them once a month until mid-August, then stop feeding them so they can go into slow dormancy.
Japanese beetles are very attracted to roses, so all Japanese beetle traps should be placed away from your borders on the perimeter of the property. Or check TheEnglishLady.com on the Biologics page for other solutions against beetles and other unwanted pests.
A tip for keeping cut roses fresh: cut the roses in the morning before 10 a.m., just above a cluster of five leaves and place the stems in a container of lukewarm water. Inside the house, cut the stems back under hot running water, forming an angular cut of an inch and a half, then place them in a vase ffilled with lukewarm water. Do not remove thorns from cut roses, I have found that this practice shortens their lifespan indoors by up to three days.
These need a lot of water (in fields they were originally found near water being a wetland plant before their introduction into our gardens), also aged organic manure, good ventilation, organic fertilizers and full sun.
Regular waist across spring and summer are the main factor in helping this arrogant vine to bloom – and by that I mean several times during the season. Prune every two weeks at least six inches on each stem.
If you have a wilting problem with clematis, you notice it early because the shoots wither and die. Unfortunately, this disease is impossible to cure because it is transmitted through the soil. Therefore, you cannot plant another clematis of this species in this area, but you can plant the selection Viticella clematis; these are vigorous, flower freely and are not susceptible to wilt. Some good choices in this variety are Beautiful Blue, Purple Star (both are purple) and Huldine, which is a blank,
GARDENS IN CONTAINERS:
If you have room for a pot, you have room for a number – placed close together in different shapes and sizes, they can make your own miniature garden. Aside from ordinary jars, the most unexpected objects make really interesting containers. A friend, who cut down trees last winter, left the stumps and dug them out to make containers – one large and two small stumps together – a really interesting combo.
At the same time, look in your basement, shed or barn to see if you have an old wheelbarrow, which, even if it is missing a wheel, will present an unusual angle like a Planter. Or you may come across a large chipped ceramic pot – I have, in fact, an old ceramic vinegar container that is two feet high, filled with a hole where the vinegar tap has been inserted, great for drainage, that will look great on my newly painted blue bench doesxt to my red milk shed.
Do not forget to add a biological control of white grubs until July, in order to limit the infestation of moles; remember no larvae, less food for moles.
Keep an eye out for powdery mildew, especially after arain and the humidity returns. In a sprayer, mix two tablespoons of baking soda, two tablespoons of vegetable or horticultural oil in one gallon of water and spray the mildew. The summer phlox is particularly prone to this affliction; I recommend Phlox Miss Lingard or Phlox David, the whites of the species, are the most resistant to mildew.
Monarda, commonly known as Bee Balm, is also affected by downy mildew; the one that I found the most resistant is Cambridge Scarlet. Be careful when introducing Monarda In the garden; they like Purple loosestrife and Evening primrose are extremely invasive and can invade your entire border.
On the theme of invasion PLants, if you are planting mint, then plant it only in containers, otherwise mint will spread all over your edgeuh.
Hope these tips are helpful to you at this busy time of year in the garden and I will see you in the garden or on my website next month.
Contact Maureen at [email protected]
About the Author: Maureen Haseley-Jones, pictured left, is a member of a family of renowned horticultural artisans with a landscape heritage dating back to the 17th century. She is one of the founders, along with her son Ian, of, The English Lady Landscape and Home Company. Maureen and Ian are landscapers and garden experts, who believe that everyone deserves to live in an eco-responsible environment and enjoy the pleasure it provides. Maureen learned her design skills from her mother and grandmother, and honed her horticultural and construction skills while working in the family nursery and landscaping business in the UK.